Author Topic: Ireland: Family forced to hold funeral on pier  (Read 888 times)

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Offline John Grace

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Ireland: Family forced to hold funeral on pier
« on: June 01, 2011, 02:44:58 PM »
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    Wednesday, April 06, 2011

    Family forced to hold funeral on pier

    A Funeral Mass was celebrated on Belderrig Pier after a priest was prohibited from officiating over the ceremony in the local church.

    Nessa O'Byrne Healy, whose father hailed from North Mayo, had spent her summers in the Belderrig area and her final wish was to be brought back and buried there with an old Latin mass.

    As Nessa’s family made their way to Mayo to lay their mother to rest, their plans were scuppered when they received word from Bishop John Fleming's office that there was an issue with the chosen priest’s documentation.

    Thrown into disarray, the family had to act quickly and in order to fulfil their late mother’s wishes, were forced to celebrate the Mass outdoors.

    Ms O’Byrne Healy’s family had organised the ceremony in Belderrig church. They had spoken with the local clergy and Athlone priest and family friend Fr David Sherry of The Society of Saint Pius X – an international Traditionalist Catholic Organisation which is not in communion with Rome – was asked to perform the ceremony.

    The family had travelled from the UK with their mother's remains and were on their way from Dublin to Mayo when they got word that they couldn’t hold the Funeral Mass in Belderrig Church.

    “We had made enquiries and were told we could have a Latin Mass but then late on Saturday night we were told otherwise. It was extremely upsetting. If we had been told earlier in the day we could have had mass in Dublin or Athlone,” said the deceased’s daughter, Blinne Ní Ghrálaigh.

    A spokesperson for the diocese said there was no issue with having a Latin Mass in Belderrig Church. The issue was with documentation for the priest who is a member of the Society of St Pius X, a statement said.

    “In order to celebrate Mass in the Roman Catholic Rite a priest must have a letter from a Bishop, in communion with Rome, indicating that he is in full communion with the Church,” said the spokesperson.

    Bishop Fleming offered to provide a priest from the diocese to say the Mass in Latin. "David Sherry was unable to fulfil these conditions and could not therefore celebrate the Mass. He was, however, invited to attend the Mass, read and say the Prayers of Commendation in Latin. A priest of the Diocese of Killala was available to celebrate Mass in Latin in the Extraordinary Form." Fr Sherry said he was offered to concelebrate a new mass but it was not suggested that another priest could say the Mass in Latin.

    "I had a letter from a Bishop in our Society. It was a very strange decision, especially when Pope Benedict issued a document in 2007 saying it was every priest's right to say the old Mass. Other priests have said Mass in churches across the country, including Knock," he said.

    Ms O’Byrne Healy’s remains rested in Belderrig Church overnight and with the help of the local community the family organised a ceremony on the pier for Monday, March 21.

    “It was beautiful and my mother would have loved it. Our extended family and the local community were great. People who had not been to a Latin Mass in more than 50 years were blown away by it.

    “It came good in the end but no thanks to the church authorities. It's ironic that there is a monument out-side Belderrig Church door for the people who were left out of the church like the un-baptised babies and then this happens," she said.

    Wednesday, April 20, 2011

    Family holding funeral on pier

    SIR – I refer to your recent article ‘Family forced to hold funeral on pier’ regarding the refusal of Bishop Fleming to allow the undersigned to officiate at the funeral Mass of the late Nessa O’Byrne-Healy in Belderrig church.

    Firstly, contrary to the diocesan spokesman’s assertion, the diocese of Killala did not make available a priest acceptable to Bishop Fleming who would celebrate the traditional Mass in accordance with the deceased’s wishes.

    Speaking with the deceased’s daughter this week, she told me that the family would certainly have considered such a proposal with favour but as it was not made, they had no option but to have the Mass outside.

    Secondly, and more importantly, it is asserted in the article that the Society of St Pius X is “Catholic but not in communion with Rome”. That is utterly false.

    To be Catholic but not in communion with Rome is a contradiction in terms. Your older readers will remember that the society, founded by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, incurred the displeasure of the Roman authorities, not for leaving the Catholic Church but for persevering in offering the traditional Roman Rite of Mass rather than the new rite invented in 1969, the use of which has co-incided with a remarkable decline in the vigour of the Church; decline described by the late John Paul II as a “silent apostasy”.

    Now, incurring displeasure and even sanctions does not separate from the Church. True, the four bishops consecrated by Archbishop Lefebvre in 1988 were putatively excommunicated (not for schism but for being consecrated without papal mandate), but that excommunication was removed by Pope Benedict XVI on 21st January 2009. If the Society of St Pius X were really not Catholic, I suspect that you would not have had cause to publish the article.

    Yours sincerely, Fr David Sherry, Ganly Place, Athlone, Co Westmeath


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